Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

George Augustus Wilcox

Detroit, Michigan

We learned about George Wilcox from an expired, unsuccessful eBay auction of letters and papers belonging to Wilcox. The owner of the Wilcox papers notes (about Wilcox and his papers):

George A. Wilcox . . . graduated from the Class of 1852 at Yale. He practiced law in Georgia for 2 years and then in Detroit, Michigan for the rest of his career. He was born in Madison, Connecticut in 1830 and died there in 1928. His daughter, Constance Grennelle Wilcox was an accomplished author and Princess by marriage, Princess Pignatelli. . . . He [Wilcox] was very involved in real estate and had a great deal of holdings. He was also involved in the lumber industry selling lumber off of his properties. Mr. Wilcox also wrote poetry which he referred to as Law Office Lyrics. [The collection of papers being auctioned contains] a typed letter dated Feb. 14th, '93 from the editor of The Green Bag stating that his "'Law Office Lyrics' are very timely and suggestive and I shall gladly give them a place in the 'Green Bag.'" [The collection contained 8 hand written poems by Wilcox and a letter written to the Connecticut Magazine in regards to publishing one of the poems.]

When we contacted the eBay owner of the papers, we found that a substantial part of the collection had been sold. We ended up acquiring from the seller of the Wilcox papers, the remainder of the parcel consisting of a Bulletin of Yale University (1929)(containing a brief biographical sketch of Wilcox) and two hand-written account books.

The Yale University Bulletin biographical profile reads as follows:

Born Septembr 20, 1830, in Madison, Conn.
Died September 22, 1928, in Madison, Conn.

Father, Jonathan Samuel Wilcox, a ship owner and merchant in East Guilford (now Madison), Conn.; son of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Todd) Wilcox; descendant of John Wilcox (Willcocks), who came from Leicestershire, England, and was an original proprietor of Hartford, Conn., in 1636; descended also from Governor Theophilus Eaton and numerous other early settlers of Connecticut. Mother, Chloe (Hand) Wilcox; daughter of Daniel Hand, a lawyer, and Artemisia (Meigs) Hand; descendant of John Hand, who was born in Maidstone, Kent, England, came to Lynn, Mass., in 1635, and was an original grantee of East Hampton, Long Island, in 1649; descended also from colonists prominent in the early history of Connecticut. . . .

Lee's Academcy, Madison. Two third prizes in English composition Sophomore year; oration appointment Junior year; dissertation appointment Senior year; member Delta Kappa, Alpha Sigma Phi, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Spent the first year after graduation in Georgia, where he studied law while serving as a tutor in a private family, at first in Augusta and later in the Nacoochee Valey; studied law in the office of his uncle, George E. Hand, district attorney in Detroit, Mich., 1853-54; admitted to the bar in Ocotber, 1854, and subsequently practiced law in Detroit until his retirement in 1892; associated with Edmund Hall for eighteen years and then practiced independently; since 1892 had lived in New York City and Madison, engaged in the management of his affairs and in philantropic activities; contributed to Yale Review and New Englander.

Married February 1, 1894, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mary Hobart, daughter of William Henry and Julia Porter (Huntington) Grenelle. One daughter, Constance Grenelle, who married Prince Guido Pignatelli di Montecalvo.

Death due to brocho-pneumonia. Buried in West Cemetary, Madison. Survived by wife, daughter, and a grand-daughter.

[Bulletin of Yale University: New Haven 1 November 1929: Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University 1928-1929 (New Haven: Bulletin of Yale University, Number 88, 1 November 1929)(pg. 4-5)]


Geo. A. Wilcox, A Christian Philanthropist. A sketch of the life of Mr. Daniel Hand, and of his benefaction to the American Missionary Association, for the education of the colored people in the southern states of America (New York: American Missionary Association, 1889)